Abstract: Profiles of Intimate Partner Violence Survivors Who Seek Formal Help and Their Association with Socio-Demographic Characteristics (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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Profiles of Intimate Partner Violence Survivors Who Seek Formal Help and Their Association with Socio-Demographic Characteristics

Friday, January 13, 2023
Hospitality 1 - Room 443, 4th Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Iris Cardenas, PhD, LSW, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland at Baltimore
Background and Purpose: Although accessing formal help (services from an institution/organization) is beneficial, only a few intimate partner violence (IPV) survivors seek services. While there is vast knowledge on the factors preventing formal help-seeking, less is known about the characteristics of women who decide to access services–particularly their endorsement of attitudes known to deter help-seeking behaviors. Thus, this study aimed to identify patterns of factors related to seeking services among IPV survivors by answering these research questions: (1) Are there distinct patterns of endorsing IPV stigma, fatalism, traditional gender roles, and experiences of partner violence? (2) If there are meaningful patterns, do Latina and non-Latina ethnicity, other socio-demographic factors, and mental health symptoms predict group membership?

Methods: Data were collected cross-sectionally using structured interviews with English and Spanish-speaking IPV survivors from seven organizations across New Jersey, New York, and Puerto Rico. 407 women were interviewed from 2018 to 2020 and 62% identified as Latinas. Their mean age was 40, and 33% reported an annual household income of less than $10,000.

Multivariate normal mixture modeling was conducted to identify profiles of women based on their internalized stigma, anticipated stigma, fatalistic views, traditional gender role attitudes about family and romantic relationships, partner violence (psychological, physical, and sexual), and economic abuse. Vermunt's 3-step approach was used to predict class membership based on socio-demographic characteristics and mental health symptoms.

Results: A four-class model with specific component distribution (latent profile analysis) best fit the data. The profiles were classified as low, moderate, or high based on their endorsement of attitudes/beliefs followed by their IPV experiences. The four profiles are: moderately low endorsement/low violence (Profile 1, 35.2%), low endorsement/high violence with high economic abuse (Profile 2, 18%), moderate endorsement/highest violence (Profile 3, 40.3%), and highest endorsement/high violence with moderate economic abuse (Profile 4, 6.5%).

Education was the strongest predictor of class membership. Compared to Profile 4, a one-year increase in the level of education predicted a 741% increase in the likelihood of membership in Profile 1 and a 793% increase in the likelihood of membership in Profile 3. Being born in the U.S. (including Puerto Rico) predicted an 84% decrease in the likelihood of membership in Profile 2, and having employment predicted a 42% increase in the likelihood of membership in Profile 1, compared to Profile 4.

Conclusions and Implications: This study reveals the heterogeneity of IPV survivors who access services and points to the nuanced and complex role of cultural beliefs. One group (Profile 4) of women, in particular, are likely to need increased and varied interventions and may be at higher risk for service discontinuation. This study also highlighted the role of education on access to services, accentuating the need for targeted programming and outreach strategies to reach the most disadvantaged communities. Finally, anticipated stigma, the fear of discrimination because of the violence experienced, was consistently scored lower than other attitudes across profiles, indicative of the unique role of social support and positive interpersonal interactions on survivors' access to services.